Posted at 2:31 PM on January 4, 2012
by Jon Gordon
By Catharine Richert, Mark Zdechlik and Elizabeth Dunbar
Rep. Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday morning that she is suspending her bid for the White House.
"I have decided to stand aside," she said at a packed news conference Wednesday morning in West Des Moines, Iowa, at the Marriott Hotel. "Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice."
In the same room the night before, Bachmann had been introduced as the next president of the United States.
Bachmann finished last in the Iowa caucus on Tuesday among the GOP presidential candidates who had campaigned there.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) hugs supporters of her campaign after a news conference in which she officially ended her campaign for Republican presidential candidate on January 4, 2012 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Bachmann ended her campaign after poor results in the 2012 Iowa caucuses. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
She had been predicting a caucus "miracle," saying Iowans would "come home" to her. But the reality of the caucus returns showed no such miracle. Bachmann garnered just 5 percent of the vote statewide and didn't win a single county.
During her speech at the news conference, Bachmann said the health care reform law backed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats had moved her to seek the presidency. She said Republicans and the country now must rally around the person who can successfully defeat Obama and his health care reform law.
"It must be stopped. Its repeal is more than just a cliché for me. Obamacare violates our fundamental liberties as Americans," she said. "I'll continue to be a strong voice, I'll continue to stand and fight."
After the caucus, analysts predicted it would be tough for Bachmann to do any better in the New Hampshire or South Carolina primaries.
"She spent in inordinate amount of time in Iowa. At one time she was the front-runner. She won the Iowa Straw Poll back in August. But that was August. In January she ran basically dead-last," said Peter Brown, Assistant Director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The notion that the voters of New Hampshire or South Carolina or Florida will feel much differently is not one likely to occur."
Bachmann thanked her staff Wednesday and said she was proud of her contributions to the race.
"I didn't tell you what the polls said you wanted to hear," she said. "I have no regrets, none whatsoever. We never compromised our principles."
As news of Bachmann's decision began to filter out, analysts said they weren't surprised at her decision.
"It seemed to me to be pretty much inevitable," Steven Shier, a political science professor at Carleton College, told MPR's Midmorning.
"[Candidates] leave the race because they don't have the money to continue, and that is certainly Michele Bachmann's situation," he said.
Bachmann has not said whether she will run for reelection in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District.
"I look forward to the next chapter in God's plan," she said. "He has always had something greater around the corner."
Bachmann didn't take any questions as she left her press conference. But as she boarded her campaign bus, she turned to the swarm of press and cameras.
"Thank you, everyone, thank you. It's been a wonderful ride."
Her spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, said that discussions about dropping out of the race began Tuesday night, after Bachmann secured only 5 percent of the caucus vote. She discussed the idea with family, her close friend Barb Meyers, and a few staff members, including Stewart.
But Stewart said she didn't know of Bachmann's final decision until Wednesday morning, when she was woken up with the news.
"She prayed about it and thought about it all night long," Stewart said. "This morning it was clear to her that it was the right step to take."
Money was not a factor in Bachmann's decision, Stewart said. The team was in "perfect shape" financially to move on to South Carolina, and will report no debts in its next finance report.
Ultimately, Bachmann made her decision based on what the voters wanted, not what others, including a religious leader who last week asked Bachmann to merge with another candidate, wanted, Stewart said.
"As she's done all along, from when she first launched this, she listens to the people," Stewart said. "And last night the people spoke and clearly she saw that they coalesced around the other candidates and she didn't have it in her heart to continue."
Bachmann kept her announcement so close that campaign staffers in South Carolina, who were preparing to host Bachman through Friday, only learned their candidate was quitting the race when they read on Twitter she had canceled her flight and events there.
Stewart shrugged off questions about how Bachmann ran her campaign, making a veiled comment about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's announcement that he would enter the race on the same day Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll - arguably the high point of her candidacy.
"She doesn't see where she made any mistakes," Stewart said. "Clearly when other candidates got in the race, it took away some of her support. We're all very proud of what she did."
As for an endorsement, Stewart said Bachmann hasn't made any decisions.
"She called all the other candidates last night just to congratulate them," she said. "They're all good friends, they get along great."
It's also unclear whether Bachmann will run again for her seat representing in the 6th Congressional District of Minnesota.
"We haven't discussed that," said Stewart. "She is not certain on that."